Isn't promoting women through these organizations, preferential hiring, and funding opportunities depriving males of the same opportunities?
Note: I'm publishing this now, even though I wrote most of it over a year ago when I was working on the Diversity 101 series. At the time, I was really burned out. I was struggling with issues at work and in the community, and the feedback I got from some of my readers was that they felt there was nothing they could do to help improve the conditions since they weren't doing anything wrong and every time I brought up the numbers, it was just depressing. The sentiment is still true today, but perhaps we can revive the effort and work together to change it.
IntroductionIn short, it shouldn't be. The purpose of diversity organizations isn't to create an unfair advantage but rather for equality. In fact, I get rather annoyed when individuals or articles claim "Girls are better at .. X". I fall outside many of the generalizations about my gender and find that most stereotypes have little to do with that and more to do with personality traits or confounding variables like environment and upbringing.
However, not all organizations see it the same way I do. Goals to increase some diverse groups can quickly turn into quotas or people telling me "You were just hired because you're a [girl/poor/LGBTQIA+/other underrepresented diversity statistic]." It's hurtful and mostly wrong. Instead, there are some positive ways to increase diversity without hiring under qualified people just to fill a statistic.
1.) Increase outreach
If you've ever heard, "Girls aren't interested in ..." or "No X people applied..." chances are you aren't reaching the right audience. Most opportunities go to people you know or people in the same social circles. By advertising with groups outside of your own, you'll increase the audience without compromising quality and ended up with someone who is regarded as a diversity statistic. Many organizations have job boards or will advertise to members if you ask. It's also worth asking individuals directly. I found that to be particularly true of conferences. When I was asked personally(and reminded!), I finally had the courage to take that first step and click submit.
2.) Market Diversely
Before I apply, be it a job or conference, etc. I look at the website. If I see a diverse group of individuals, I'm more likely to feel comfortable there. I recently[edit: fall 2015] attended a very homogenous conference and I was surprised at how much it bummed me out. Conversations were limited, and I was very lonely. I won't be returning anytime soon. Also, make sure it isn't just the same person in all the pictures, then it's just tokenizing.
3.) Fund the Pipeline
I mostly focus on retention in industry, but I do think that the pipeline is critical as well. In addition to programs that target getting children interested in technology early, support programs offering affordable solutions for adults looking to change careers. Everyone's unique experiences bring something new to the table. Software engineering is not just writing algorithms. It's about bringing together requirements and questioning direction when something doesn't make sense.
4.) Measure your results
Even if it might be scary or painful, you won't know until you count. If you haven't already, start tracking how many people apply for positions, how many are hired, and how long they stay. If you notice a pattern in any stage, try to find out why.
In conclusion, encouraging more diversity in your organization doesn't have to take away from anything. To be effective, it should be an addition to your marketing and hiring processes.
Up Next: What makes a woman more ‘deserving’ of these opportunities than someone who ___ ?